An Omniscient God

Today I'm interested in the concept of an omniscient god; a being that knows everything.

I began with omniscience, infinite knowledge. What is the difference between knowledge and information? A person may know a thing. With access to a library a person may have the ability to learn and then know more. Knowledge then is a factor of the ability to access and hold information. Access to information and memory are limiting factors to knowledge then; both assume a consciousness. Without consciousness there can be no knowledge - a library doesn't "know" anything, despite the information in the books inside. The words knowledge and know are applied to people and extended to other anthropomorphised entities (as in my cat knows what food it likes). That's because humans are social creatures and language and words like knowledge are socially useful, moreso than abstract concepts.

The important factor in knowledge is information. The speed that information can be accessed can increase the speed knowledge can grow. The amount of information a mind can hold can increase the about of knowledge available. As knowledge is a product of a mind, let's set that mind aside, and return to the concept of omniscience. An infinite mind would have infinite speed of information access and infinite memory to store it. That would negate "mind" entirely and leave only information. A library may not be "conscious", as we feel it, but if it held all of the information in the universe it would be "omniscient" under these terms.

This underlines that the only difference between knowledge and information is consciousness, and that that difference is due to the difference in the meaning of those words.

What then is information? Information is at least a relative concept. When one thing exists that is different from another then information is present in that difference. A universe that consists only of identical things contains no information, noting that concepts such as time and location etc. also count when measuring identicality. It's in the nature of identicality that more than one cannot exist; whether one or two or an infinite number, every possible factor is the same and therefore quantity doesn't exist.

Information is dependent on difference, contrast. If there are two objects in the universe, of a certain size and some space apart then information about space and size is conveyed in their existence. If one object is red and the other blue then information about colour is conveyed in the difference between the objects. The information is not in the objects inherently but in the relationship of one to the other. This is made clear if one object was removed, whether the red or blue objects remains, the colour existed only because it was relative to the other, and so all colour vanishes from the universe when there is only one object. We, as "global" observers here, with our knowledge might know and recognise the redness or blueness of a single object but in its universe it has no colour; neither red not blue. Information exists only through relativity.

Information is essentially stored as a mix of thing and nothing. It is not possible for a universe of 100% nothingness or 100% everythingness to exist for this reason (indeed, both of those concepts are identical for that reason; thing only exists relative to nothing and vice versa). The properties of the thing are not important, just it's relation to the nothing. It is that relationship that holds information.

Once that is established then this poses many questions; how much information can be stored and how will this quantity vary as the relative proportions of thing and nothing are changed? Do the proportions matter? Perhaps just 1% thing and 99% nothing in the universe could store as much as 50% of each. Moreso, is thing the same size as nothing? Could 50% of thing look like 1% in size terms? All information exists by virtue of relativity, so size exists only by that virtue too, measurement in all dimensions, quantity, separateness, solidity and every other possible informational factor. That's quite a lot; but it does explain how an infinite amount of information can be stored in a space that looks finite.

These gigantic questions can wait for a volume or two. Now I'll jump back to omniscience.

Where is all of the information in the universe stored? The answer must be in all of the universe. Every part. A being that was omniscient would necessarily need to be identical to all of the universe. Any difference would change the nature of the information by virtue of that difference. Such a being would be omnipresent too. But not conscious, because consciousness (a human concept) implies thought, and temporal fluctuations; but principally that to have infinitely fast access to information and infinite storage of it would remove any difference between the information and the mental process, thought/knowledge/consciousness. This being wouldn't be benevolent either, because benevolence or malevolence can only exist relative to something else, and being all things there is no other things to be relative to. Thus a god is born, of sorts. The question of a belief in an divine being depends on your personal definition of a being.

Copyright © 8 January 2013 by Mark Sheeky